Annual report 2016 cover

Nature and scope of functions

We help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent. Ko ta mātou he whakamana tangata kia tū haumaru, kia tū kaha, kia tū motuhake.

The Ministry of Social Development is present in almost every region of New Zealand and our people have connections to every community. Our work touches nearly all New Zealanders at some point in their lives.

Our role and functions

Our principal role is to help to build successful individuals, and in turn strong, healthy families and communities. In 2015/2016 we provided the following services to achieve our purpose of helping New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent:

  • statutory care and protection of children and young people, youth justice services and adoption services
  • funding for, and quality assessment of, community service providers
  • information, knowledge and support for families and communities
  • employment support
  • income support, including payments, entitlements and assessments
  • New Zealand Superannuation and Veterans’ Pensions
  • social housing assessments and services
  • access to concessions and discounts for seniors, families and low-income New Zealanders
  • services to help disabled people live successful lives
  • student allowances and student loans
  • campaigns that challenge antisocial attitudes and behaviour
  • services to uphold the integrity of the welfare system
  • advice to the Government on social policy.

The Government is establishing a new agency, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, from 1 April 2017. The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will support the development and implementation of a new operating model for services to vulnerable children and young people. Statutory care and protection and youth justice services, the Children’s Teams, operational adoption services, and relevant funding and contracting services will be transferred to the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, along with policy advice related to these functions.

Our scope

As the administering department for Vote Social Development, in 2015/2016 we oversaw the expenditure of almost $25 billion of public money, and provided services and assistance to more than a million New Zealanders. Our client base included children, young people, families, youth, working-age people, students, disabled people, seniors and communities.

We provided services to the following Ministers:

  • Minister of Finance
  • Minister for Social Development
  • Minister for Social Housing
  • Minister for Youth
  • Minister of Revenue
  • Minister for Seniors
  • Minister of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Associate Minister for Social Development
  • Minister for Disability Issues.

We monitor the following Crown entities:

  • Children’s Commissioner
  • Families Commission (Superu)
  • New Zealand Artificial Limb Service
  • Social Workers Registration Board.

We supported the following statutory tribunals and advisory committees:

  • Social Security Appeal Authority
  • Student Allowance Appeal Authority
  • Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal
  • nine Child, Youth and Family Residence Grievance Panels
  • Work and Income Board [1]
  • Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel
  • Advisory Expert Group on Information Security [2].

We provided leadership across government by:

  • chairing the Social Sector Board (SSB)
  • hosting the Children’s Action Plan Directorate, the Social Sector Trials Programme Office, the Family Violence Unit, and the Property Management Centre of Expertise [3].

We worked with Māori by:

  • co-ordinating two Treaty Settlement Social Sector Accords (Te Hiku and Tuhoe)
  • supporting the Waikato River Iwi Accord and the Taranaki Whānui Social Accord
  • engaging on joint social development planning with the iwi of Wairoa and Ngāti Rangi
  • progressing five formal Memoranda of Understanding (with Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Toa)
  • supporting the E Tu Whānau programme to increase awareness of family violence issues
  • establishing a Māori Investment Strategy to improve sustainable employment outcomes for Māori, underpinned by our investment approach.

Better Public Services

We are responsible, through the Social Sector Board, for leading cross-agency effort to achieve the following Better Public Services (BPS) results:

  • Reduce working-age client numbers and the long-term cost of benefit dependency (Result 1)
  • Reduce the number of children experiencing physical abuse (Result 4).

In addition, our Chief Executive, as Chair of the SSB, has responsibility for leading cross-agency effort to achieve the following BPS results:

  • Increase participation in early childhood education (Result 2, led at agency level by the Ministry of Education)
  • Increase infant immunisation rates and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever (Result 3, led at agency level by the Ministry of Health).

We also contribute to the following four Better Public Services results:

  • Increase attainment of NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification (Result 5, led by the Ministry of Education)
  • Reduce crime rates (Result 7, led by the Ministry of Justice)
  • Reduce reoffending rates (Result 8, led by the Ministry of Justice)
  • Enhance New Zealanders’ ability to deal with government agencies in a digital environment (Result 10, led by the Department of Internal Affairs).

Our legislation

The complex environment in which we operate is governed by many key pieces of legislation that provide the framework to support the decisions we make and to ensure a fair system for all who use it.

A full list of the legislation we administer can be found here.

Government priorities, MSD outcomes and priorities in 2015/2016

Click on the image to enlarge

Click on the image to enlarge.


[1] Disestablished in December 2015.
[2] Disestablished in March 2016.
[3] The Property Management Centre of Expertise moved to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in April 2016.